The League of Canadian Poets is proud to present the 2023 Book Awards winners of the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and the Raymond Souster Award.
The winners will each receive $2000 thanks to funding from Canada Council for the Arts , Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council.
Learn more about the 2023 LCP Book Awards Winners: Meet the Winners: an Interview with Adebe DeRango-Adem, Gillian Sze and Matthew James Weigel
Learn more about the 2023 awards and celebrate the poetry of 2022:
- 2023 Book Awards Winners
- 2023 Book Awards: Meet the Winners Interview
- 2023 Book Awards: What does JOY mean to you?
- 2023 Book Awards: What is a poem you turn to for comfort or joy?
- 2023 Book Awards Shortlists
- 2023 Book Awards Longlists
- 2023 Book Awards: Meet the Jurors
- LCP Awards Homepage
2023 GERALD LAMPERT MEMORIAL AWARD WINNER
Awarded annually since 1981, the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award is given in the memory of Gerald Lampert, an arts administrator who organized author tours and took a particular interest in the work of new writers. The award recognizes a first book of poetry published by a Canadian writer in the preceding year. The award carries a $2000 prize and is sponsored by the LCP.
Thank you to the 2022-23 jurors of the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award: Jannie Edwards, Alvy Carragher and Greg Santos.
Whitemud Walking by Matthew James Weigel (Coach House Books)
From the jurors
A remarkable work of resistance historiography, Whitemud Walking tracks the poet’s deeply personal investigation of colonial violence and erasure. The book is a masterclass in experimental form that tracks an “all-or-nothing calling” of witness through the literal deconstruction of colonial archival documents, the uncovering and re-visioning of family stories and the poet’s loving and attentive relationship with a particular place. You do not just read this book but experience it with your mind, heart, and spirit.
I’m incredibly grateful for the support that my work has received. It has been overwhelming. This award has a history of recognizing amazing writers across its long and shortlists, and to be added to those lists is a genuine honour. –Matthew James Weigel
About Matthew James Weigel
Matthew James Weigel is a Dene and Métis poet and artist born and raised in Edmonton. Currently pursuing a PhD in English at the University of Alberta, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. He is the designer for Moon Jelly House press and his words and art have been published by people like Arc Poetry Magazine, Book*Hug, The Polyglot, and The Mamawi Project. Matthew is a Writers’ Trust Dayne Ogilvie Prize finalist, National Magazine Award finalist, Nelson Ball Prize finalist, Cécile E. Mactaggart award winner, and winner of both the 2020 Vallum Chapbook Award and 2021 bpNichol Chapbook Award for his chapbook It Was Treaty / It Was Me. His debut full-length collection Whitemud Walking received the Alcuin Society Award for book design, has been shortlisted for the City of Edmonton book award, Stephan G. Stephansson Alberta Literary Award for Poetry, the Raymond Souster Award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. It is available now from Coach House Books.
About Whitemud Walking
Whitemud Walking is about the land Matthew Weigel was born on and the institutions that occupy that land. It is about the interrelatedness of his own story with that of the colonial history of Canada, which considers the numbered treaties of the North-West to be historical and completed events. But they are eternal agreements that entail complex reciprocity and obligations. The state and archival institutions work together to sequester documents and knowledge in ways that resonate violently in people’s lives, including the dispossession and extinguishment of Indigenous title to land.
Using photos, documents, and recordings that are about or involve his ancestors, but are kept in archives, Weigel examines the consequences of this erasure and sequestration. Memories cling to documents and sometimes this palimpsest can be read, other times the margins must be centered to gain a fuller picture. Whitemud Walking is a genre-bending work of visual and lyric poetry, non-fiction prose, photography, and digital art and design.
2023 PAT LOWTHER MEMORIAL AWARD WINNER
The Pat Lowther Memorial Award is given for a book of poetry by a woman in Canada, and is in memory of the late Pat Lowther, whose career was cut short by her untimely death in 1975. The award carries a $2,000 prize. This award is inclusive of trans women and non-binary individuals who feel comfortable being recognized by a women’s prize.
Thank you to the 2022-23 jurors of the Pat Lowther Memorial Award: Jaclyn Desforges, Elee Kraljii Gardiner and Jody Chan!
Quiet Night Think by Gillian Sze (ECW Press)
From the jurors
Quiet Night Think is a contemplative collection about liminality, transformation, identity, and belonging. Interweaving lyric, prose poems and personal essays, Sze meditates on language, culture, the act of translation, new motherhood, and her own origins as a poet. But the true power of the book lies not in any one genre or subject, but in the spaces between them – the spaces in which Sze unearths unexpected connections and meaning. As she writes about the exhaustive haze of new motherhood, those first few weeks spent “sitting inside the moon,” Sze’s spare, unflinching lines draw our attention to the in-between moments of life, the concentric circles of becoming.
The first thing I thought about when I learned that Quiet Night Think won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award was a conversation I recount in the book. When I asked my mother about her own Chinese generational poem, she said frankly: “I have no idea what it even is. I’m sure it’s recorded somewhere back in the village. Women were married off, so their poems don’t matter anyway.” The second thing I thought of was another conversation I had with my late grandmother, while sitting in her kitchen. When I asked why she hesitated to marry my Ah Gong, she laughed and said, “I just wanted to read instead.” So to learn that I received a women’s prize—a women’s poetry prize—reminds me of the opportunities for education that were lost on the women in my family, in history, in the world, and the value (or at times lack of value) assigned to them and to poetry. This award is felt more keenly with them in mind.
When I was small, I wanted to write because I wanted to be read. This is still the case and I continue to write because I continue to seek connections within myself and hopefully with the reader (imagined and always forthcoming). The latter is of course more difficult to confirm and it has always been a mystery to me, if and how my work is received. I’m so honoured to be selected for this award and to find myself suddenly in a line of other women whom I’ve read, loved, and who have shaped me: Evelyn Lau, Dionne Brand, Marilyn Bowering, Erin Moure, and Gwendolyn MacEwan.
I am deeply grateful to LCP and the jurors for awarding Quiet Night Think the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. –Gillian Sze
About Gillian Sze
Gillian Sze is the author of five previous poetry collections, including Peeling Rambutan, Redrafting Winter, and Panicle, which were all finalists for the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry. Her latest book, Quiet Night Think, was shortlisted for the same prize in 2022 and was also part of the Jury Selection for the 2022 Grand Prix du livre de Montréal. Gillian has also written books for children. Her debut picture book, The Night Is Deep and Wide, was listed as one of the Best Books for Kids in 2021 by the New York Public Library. Her work has attained starred reviews from Quill & Quire, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews and has been translated into Slovenian, French, Italian, Turkish, Hebrew, and Greek. Gillian studied Creative Writing and English Literature and received a PhD in études anglaises from Université de Montréal. Originally from Winnipeg, she now lives in Montreal.
About Quiet Night Think
During the remarkable period of early parenthood, Sze’s new maternal role urges her to contemplate her own origins, both familial and artistic. Comprised of six personal essays, poems, and a concluding long poem, Quiet Night Think takes its title from a direct translation of an eighth-century Chinese poem by Li Bai, the subject of the opening essay. Sze’s memory of reading Li Bai’s poem as a child marks the beginning of an unshakable encounter with poetry. What follows is an intimate anatomization of her particular entanglement with languages and cultures.
In her most generically diverse book yet, Sze moves between poetry and prose, mother and writer, the lyrical and the autobiographical, all the while inviting readers to meditate with her on questions of emergence and transformation: What are you trying to be? Where does a word break off? What calls to us throughout the night?
2023 RAYMOND SOUSTER WINNER
The Raymond Souster Award is given for a book of poetry by a League of Canadian Poets member. The award honours Raymond Souster, an early founder of the League of Canadian Poets. The award carries a $2,000 prize.
Thank you to the 2022-23 jurors of the Raymond Souster Award: MLA Chernoff, Marjorie Bruhmuller and Evan J!
Vox Humana by Adebe DeRango-Adem (Book*hug Press)
From the jurors:
In Vox Humana, Adebe DeRango-Adem offers a politics and ethics of urgency in every poem. Pulsating with voices, these rhythms are alive as they “spook / the master’s language,” altering formal expectations and invoking lineages of poetic experimentation with distinction and exuberance. This book demands a humanism that exclaims, “butwhocaresnobigdealIwantmore” in its desire for “more breath.”
On the levels of both content and form, Vox Humana is a difficult book, asking uneasy questions around agency and power. And it many ways it chooses to reside/remain in that space of questioning, refusing any easy answers or conclusions. Yet this too is the beauty of language: that it can reframe and reinvent our ideas and memories, and our lives. I’d like to believe that Souster himself, a poet who praised experimentation, would have appreciated this volume and its vigilante air, my love of pulling language apart: interrogating every root, every process by which a term becomes an agreed-upon artifact of a language, becomes meaningful. The fact that several poems in this collection can be read in more than one way also contributes to the idea of the reader as active participant in the story being told.
I’ve heard it said that “listening is an art.” But it’s greater than that; listening is a critical, deep responsibility. It is paying attention, but also being open to having our perspective(s) change. Poetry invites us to pause, breathe, reflect; dwell in the open-ended, the uncertain, the infinite. The question, for example, of how we keep living with ourselves on this damaged orb, or how we might save ourselves from the brutal repetition(s) of history. Perhaps most imperatively: how might we imagine this world anew, and life on this planet sustainable? As such, the “voice” in Vox is both singular and plural: born from the particular set of experiences I bring as a woman of colour, and dedicated to all bodies and voices that are/have been compromised in some way. To choose against silence and compose words, and have those words not only heard but reflected on thoughtfully, read and listened to with care, means the world (is the world) to me. A profound thanks to the jury for championing my book, and to my future readers/listeners for whom this book was composed: I will forever cherish this award.
I am so profoundly grateful that Vox Humana is being celebrated/included in this prolific list of awardees. From the bottom of my heart (but really all contours of my heart): thank you for this affirmation! I could not have made this book without the support of writer friends, the wonderful team at Book*hug Press (including my editor, Shazia Hafiz Ramji), the support of Twelve Literary Arts (Cleveland, OH), and the countless poets past and present whose words I’ve turned to as a means of recalibration, music, survival. –Adebe DeRango-Adem
About Adebe DeRango-Adem
Adebe DeRango-Adem is a writer and former attendee of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (Naropa University), where she mentored with poets Anne Waldman and Amiri Baraka. She is the author of four full-length poetry books to date: Ex Nihilo (Frontenac House, 2010), Terra Incognita (Inanna Publications, 2015), The Unmooring (Mansfield Press, 2018), and Vox Humana (Book*hug Press, 2022). Her poem, “Vox Genus / Provectus,” was selected by poet Sonia Sanchez as the winner of the 2021 Boston Review Annual Poetry Contest. Adebe is a 2023 resident of the Choral Creation Lab, where selections from Vox Humana will be developed into an original choral composition in collaboration with fellow resident composers and the Amadeus Choir of Toronto.
About Vox Humana
Vox Humana (Latin for “human voice”) is driven by a sense of political urgency to probe the ethics of agency in a world that actively resists the participation of some voices over others.
In and through literary experiments with word and sound, utterance and song, Vox Humana considers the different ways a body can assert, recount, proclaim, thus underscoring the urgency of doing so against the de-voicing effects of racism and institutional violence.
As the title also represents an organ reed that sounds like the human voice, so DeRango-Adem shares her reclaiming of the instrument traditionally accessed by the white establishment.
These poems are born from the polyphonic phenomenon of the author’s multilingual upbringing. They are autobiographical and alchemical, singular and plural, but, above all, a celebration of the (breath) work required for transformation of society and self.
Would you like to know more about the 2023 Winners of LCP Book Awards?
Check out Meet the Winners, to find out more about the poets, their poetry collections, poem recommendations, thoughts on joy and more:
Learn more about the 2023 awards and celebrate the poetry of 2022: